About Phil Cleary

Phil Cleary, a native of Merseyside, initially pursued a career as a computer engineer following completion of his A-levels. Transitioning to law enforcement, Phil specialised in undercover work until a car accident forced his early retirement on medical grounds. The former detective, together with his brother Mike, co-invented SmartWater, a forensic technology that won the Prince of Wales Award for Innovation in 1996. Overseeing the growth of The SmartWater Group, Phil transformed it from a two-person operation into an international company with nearly 200 employees. Recently retired, Phil is currently pursuing a Master’s in History at Birmingham University and is readying Helios Radar for market.

He lives in Hampshire with his wife, Melanie.

Phil Cleary on Sergeants course (1988 - top row, 2nd from the right).


Co-founded SmartWater with brother, Michael Cleary, a Chartered Chemist and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry.


SmartWater wins Prince of Wales Award for Innovation and features on BBC's Tomorrow's World programme.


Launches 'The SmartWater Strategy' with the Metropolitan Police, leading to an 85% reduction in household burglaries in the London borough of Brent.


Phil and Michael establish not-for-profit organisation The SmartWater Foundation to support initiatives helping struggling communities.


Phil is awarded a Fellowship of the Royal Society of Arts in recognition of his entrepreneurial achievements.


Publication of Elixir. Phil's debut novel wins critical acclaim. Revised and republished in 2023.


SmartWater gains accreditation with the UK Government's Forensic Science Regulator's Codes of Practice.


The SmartWater Foundation helps archaeologists and the US State Department protect priceless artefacts in Syria.


Formation of The SmartWater Group, and the Centre for Infrastructure and Asset Protection, an intelligence arm which provides crime pattern analysis for the UK police service.


The SmartWater Foundation helps scientists at the National Institute of Health (NIH) on a new initiative to combat the spread of malaria in Africa.


Phil retires as CEO of SmartWater after private equity house Freshstream buys a majority stake with a nine-figure valuation.


Launches Helios Radar with products scheduled for market readiness in early 2024.
Phil Cleary receives The Prince of Wales Award for Industrial Innovation and Production, Tomorrow's World 1996 for SmartWater
The Prince of Wales Award for Industrial Innovation and Production, Tomorrow's World 1996 for SmartWater